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2012: The year for ageing

06 Jan 2012

Josephine from Kenya is bridging the gap between older citizens in the developing and developed world.We are all living in an era of unprecedented ageing, yet the voices of older people in developing countries and the issues they face remain mostly unheard. In fact, many of us living in Europe are completely detached from the fact that "their" issues are "our" issues.

By 2050 there will be more people in the world who are 60 and over than children aged 14 and under. Yet even these kinds of shocking statistics aren't enough to make people realise that action must be taken.

Maybe 2050 seems too far in the future for the challenges faced by older people - illness, isolation, age discrimination, lack of income, to name but a few... to seem tangible. 

The current financial crisis and its short term effect have diverted us from the huge impact that rapid population ageing will have on us all over the next 50-100 years. 

A key year for ageing

However, we hope things will be different in 2012. Slowly but surely, we are seeing positive steps that ageing and the issues it raises are finally being more widely recognised. 

2012 is a key year for ageing for many reasons. Firstly, governments all over the world will review their policies on ageing in the ten-year review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA).

MIPAA is the first global agreement which recognises older people as contributors to their societies. It commits governments to including ageing in all social and economic development policies. This includes poverty reduction programmes, such as the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

Arguably the most important part of this process is that older people have been part of it. With UNFPA, we have carried out group discussions with older people in 30 countries to see whether and how their lives have changed over the last decade.

We will use these findings in a report on the State of the World's Older Persons to be published on the UN International Day of Older Persons this year.

European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations

2012 is also the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012). A coalition of organisations, including HelpAge, has called for commitments to mainstream ageing into all relevant EU policies.

The manifesto also calls for "a society for all ages where everyone is empowered to play an active part in society and enjoy equal rights and opportunities in all stages of their life". 

The main objectives of EY2012 are to:

  • promote active ageing in employment
  • facilitate active ageing in the community
  • promote healthy ageing and independent living
  • enhance solidarity between the generations.

This is a great opportunity to get international and European decision makers involved in our work. As the world's largest aid donor, the EU needs to better include older people in its development policy and programmes. Our Age Demands Action campaign encourages European citizens to lobby their governments and political figures to make this happen.

Bringing generations together through dialogue

EY2012 is also a brilliant chance to build on our work to bring generations - old and young from the developed and developing world - together.

Over the last two years, we have been enabling older people in developing countries and EU citizens to talk to each other via a video dialogue on our website.

Paul, Josephine and Rhoda from Kenya have already been exchanging stories about the challenges they face with people from Slovenia, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

We want to bridge the gap between young and old and show that older people can play a crucial role in their communities. They just need the right kind of support. Let's hope this year will be the year decision-makers start listening to their needs.

Get involved!

  • Support our campaign to lobby the EU to include older people in their development policies and programmes by signing our EU Lead the Way petition.
  • Watch this space for more news about our intergenerational campaign for EY2012!
  • And if you have any events or campaigns planned for EY2012, let us know.  

Your comments

Santos Sosa

Mis congratulaciones: Sarah Marzouk. Es una noticia muy interesante, todo el mundo estará a la expectativa, de los acuerdos y conclusiones del gran evento de: revisión de políticas sobre envejecimiento, que se realizará en Madrid.


Dear Sarah, Thank you for bringing up the issue of bringing generations together. Through our Age Demands Action Campaign, young people have a very big and important opportunity to take a stand on ageing and show to the European Union that older people across the world matter. Let us join hand in this and show our intergeneational solidarity.


Just came across this website full of stories and information that I like to know about ! ( fed up with the same news fed by all major newspapers!). Will make my 14 years daughter read about the blogs... inspiring ! Thanks Also I went on to find out more about the Active Ageing. Noboby around me (including me !) new about the internal year for Active Ageing!!! I work in the Health Sector and managed to convince the practitioners i work with to get involved and offer some help to get people active and moving ! Great news they are 3 of them taking some time off at the end of April to offer Free check ups & advise sessions all over 50's groups,... Been talking to the other receptionists and we are all for it ! Will keep you informed.

Sarah Marzouk

Hi Soraya, Thanks so much for your comment, I'm very happy that you liked the blog. Please keep us up to date with all your activities, you could even send us some photos! If you have anything you want to send us, just email HelpAge: info@helpage.org Thanks, Sarah

Stella K

Barbara, her idea about bringing the different age groups together is fantastic. In the world we live in though, I dont see how that will happen any time soon. It's very difficult to teach an elderly how to even use the remote control. I don't see the need of bringing the different age groups together because in the society we live in, someone has to be left behing while others progress. Thats the way of life and that's how it'll always be. I understand your point of bringing people together because over the years people have been losing touch of their own family. It's through the progression of technology we've fallen apart. As technology improves, maybe someone will invent something that will unite all of us someday.

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Author profile

Sarah Marzouk
Country: UK
Job title: Digital Communications

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.